The rise of women in the workplace is often blamed for making men feel sidelined, emasculated and unsure of their role in the family.
But a new study suggests being the sole breadwinner is bad for a man’s mental and physical health and sharing the financial burden brings long-term benefits to well-being.
In contrast, women’s mental health benefits from being the only provider.
US researchers conclude that cultural expectations left men viewing breadwinning as an obligation they must fulfil, while women see it as an achievement.
Dr Christin Munsch, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut, said: “Men who make a lot more money than their partners may approach breadwinning with a sense of obligation and worry about maintaining breadwinner status.
“Women, on the other hand, may approach breadwinning as an opportunity or choice. Breadwinning women may feel a sense of pride, without worrying what others will say if they canno t or do no t maintain it.
“Our study contributes to a growing body of research that demonstrates the ways in which gender expectations are harmful for men too. Men are expected to be breadwinners, yet providing for one’s family with little or no help has negative repercussions.”
To find the link between financial dependency and overall health, researchers looked at the answers of nearly 9000 people who took part in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth between 2007 and 2011. They found that men’s psychological wellbeing and health were at their worst during years when they were their families’ sole breadwinner.
The psychological well being scores for men were 5% lower and health scores 3.5% lower, on average, than in the years when their partners contributed equally.
Munsch said: “Our study finds that decoupling breadwinning from masculinity has concrete benefits for both men and women.”
Source: Times Live